Out of Sight, Out of Mind! In Sight? Christ!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind!  In Sight?  Christ

Phil 3:4-14

 

IHS

 

May you see the incredible love and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ so clearly, that it robs you of any desire to focus your life on anything else!

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The thing parents miss the most…

It is the one tactic that works in raising children for a while, that works so spectacularly that when it no longer works, parents and preschool teachers cry.

Described by six little words, oh the problems solved by it.

If I give you the first three words, I bet you will get it.  Heck, I bet some of you will get it with only one word.

Out ….. of ….. sight

Yeah – that great opportunity to simply remove something from the picture, and in a moment, most young children forget it was ever there.  You are driving past a golden arches, and they so want to go there… until of course you are 30 seconds past it…. Then it is forgotten.  

It is true for adults as well, especially spiritually.  Not so much for things like coffee and doughnuts and… bacon.

But spiritually, we are very much children – we have to deal with those things that are in front of us, and the challenge is.. what is in front of us!

What should Be out of Sight and out of Mind

In the epistle reading today, we see a great example of this very thing.  Paul talks of those things that we in front of him spiritually, consciously.  The things that gave him the confidence he needed when he was a young up and coming rabbi.  He had all the right boxes checked off, all the advantages that anyone could want.

Genetically – he was perfect, family – perfect (those are the root words in Greek Genea and phylum) the right schooling – the roughest and most demanding program which he excelled at, He even proved how loyal he was to his nation, to his religion, by squishing like a cockroach those who opposed it.

Imagine being the next American hero – a cross between Tom Brady and Bill Gates  – and being the captain of Stanford’s football team and making a 4.0 in a dual major of computer science and a MBA and while there – you invent a computer that costs $5 dollars to make –can be sold for $500 and blows away everything else on the market?

These are the things that Paul counts on, they are on the forefront of his mind – so much so… that they become a detriment. They actually are so incredible – so depended upon, so much in sight, that what was not in sight, was was not forefront in his mind… was that which every Jewish person for hundreds of years said they were looking for, the Messiah.

The very things that should have helped him to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, got in the way, as Jesus was standing before him all the time.  It is

These things – to put it simply, like the things we depend upon for our being considered “right” need to be put aside – for they distract us from what truly makes us righteous.  It’s not that we’ve been coming to church all our lives, or that we’ve been Lutheran for 10 years, or that we are Irish, or that we’ve done this or that, or we’ve worked hard, or whatever it is… for if you don’t see Jesus, these things are nothing more than…distractions.  It isn’t even that we belong to the very special church family,

Or As Paul says,

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

What should be in sight, and in Mind

Even before Paul leaving behind all his stuff, there were two sets of brothers, who left their dad, and their family business, to follow a young homeless teacher, who a preacher said was the Agnus Dei – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Another man, a very tax collector, left his tables on April 15th, to walk with this teacher.  Paul leaves behind everything else – it cannot capture his mind, or his heart anymore. Indeed, he counts them as refuse – not just the trash but the stuff that fills sewers and raises a stink.  St Patrick will, because of this very thing – return to the land where he was a enslaved and escaped – knowing that he could face death…because of what he gained in leaving it all behind.   Everything they were, they left behind…

Why?

Because of the infinite value of knowing Jesus.  Please hear this – it is the most important thing I can tell you.  It isn’t that we know about Jesus,  As the Epistle of James tells us, even demons know about Jesus – they recognize Him faster than anyone else in scripture.  It is not knowing about Jesus, it is about knowing him.

Luther explained it this way.

For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation.  The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.

They can know of him – but unless they understand God’s mind and will – that His desire is that we all come to repentance – the transformation that occurs when He comes to our lives, unless we understand His love and blessing, the motions we go through are worthless…

It is as we gain Christ, and become one with Him – as we are pulled into that intimate relationship with a God who loves us beyond anything we can imagine. That is when we begin to grasp what Paul says when he says..

I become righteous through trusting in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on trust. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

The incredible blessing that comes from knowing what happened to us here – as we were baptized, isn’t easy to comprehend.  How do you explain the “coming to life” that happens when we realize that we’ve been cleansed from sin, when the cross becomes more than just a historical event, but the place where our life completely transforms because we are untied to Christ there, at the cross, in our baptism?  Where we are united with Christ, and His death and the hope of His resurrection? 

Where we are united to Him!

A few days ago, the new pope said it this way, in his first sermon

“This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.

Without the cross – all we have is the garbage – the worthless stuff, the things this world might recognize as important – but have no meaning in the face of life or death, that isn’t what will sustain a marriage, or as Pope Francis said, will sustain a church.  He went on, to recognize, very much like St. Paul, what would.  He said,

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward. “

Though the challenge would be worded slightly different for us – it is when we are joined to the cross of Christ, that everything is transformed. As we partake of the Body and Blood of Chris. That we begin to realize what Paul says… how this can occur.

How it can be…

I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

You see – that is our key – to strive to “get” that we’ve already been gotten.  That in Christ, it is not the attaining of perfection or holiness that is what we are challenged with, it is not being good enough.

The battle, the fight is to realize that we are already there, that God is calling us to realize He is there… He is our vision – and then we don’t need to toss aside all these other things – all these other “good” things… for they will have fallen aside, and become out of mind…

For we will dwell in incredible peace – the peace that comes from living in the presence of God, protected there, our hearts and minds  kept there, for we are Christ’s possession. AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on March 17, 2013, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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